SoCal Trio Charged with Armed Robberies During One-Week Spree Resulting in Fatal Car Crash

Discover the shocking crime spree that rocked SoCal as three individuals face charges for armed robberies and a fatal car crash. Learn more here.

In a shocking crime spree that shook Southern California, three individuals have been charged with a series of armed robberies that occurred over the course of a week. The string of robberies, which targeted a liquor store, gas station, and convenience store, came to a tragic end when the suspects were involved in a fatal car crash while trying to flee from the police. The incident resulted in the death of an innocent bystander. The defendants, who have been identified as Kaelenn Maea, Salagi Iakopo, and Mathew Salanoa, are facing charges of Hobbs Act robbery and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. This article will delve into the details of the crime spree, highlighting the events leading up to the fatal car crash and providing updates on the ongoing investigation.

Curious about your city’s darkest crime stories? Dive in here!


The crime spree in Southern California involved a series of armed robberies committed by three individuals, Kaelenn Maea, Salagi Iakopo, and Mathew Salanoa. These robberies took place within a one-week period and resulted in a fatal car crash as the defendants attempted to flee from police.

The fatal car crash occurred on October 9, when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies discovered a stolen Range Rover connected to the robberies. As the deputies approached the vehicle, it sped off and collided with another car, resulting in the death of an innocent bystander.

Charges and Defendants

Kaelenn Maea, Salagi Iakopo, and Mathew Salanoa have been charged via a criminal complaint with Hobbs Act robbery and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. Maea and Salanoa are expected to make their initial appearances in the United States District Court, while law enforcement continues to search for Iakopo.

The charges filed against the defendants reflect the seriousness of their alleged crimes and the potential harm caused during their crime spree.

Robberies and Modus Operandi

The three defendants committed three armed robberies within a one-week period. The robberies took place in Downey, Compton, and South El Monte.

During each robbery, one of the robbers used a short-style rifle to control the victims, while another robber stole cash registers or drawers. The defendants then fled the scene in an SUV.

Their use of a short-style rifle was a significant factor in controlling the victims, and their method of stealing cash registers highlighted their intent to obtain as much money as possible.

First Robbery: Downey

The first robbery took place in Downey. Details of this specific incident include the roles played by each defendant and the amount of money stolen. It is important to analyze the individual involvement of each defendant to establish their level of responsibility.

Second Robbery: Compton

The second robbery occurred in Compton. Surveillance footage captured one of the defendants casing the store approximately 10 minutes before the robbery took place. The robbers briefly left the store before returning to commit the robbery.

During the Compton robbery, one of the defendants detached the cash register from the counter, while another defendant threatened the cashier and customers with a rifle. The amount of money stolen during this robbery is a crucial piece of evidence in establishing the severity of the crime.

Third Robbery: South El Monte

The third robbery took place in South El Monte. Similar to the previous robberies, the defendants threatened the victims with a rifle. The amount of money stolen during this robbery should be considered in determining the defendants’ motive and the potential impact on the victims.

Fatal Car Crash

The discovery of the stolen Range Rover led to the fatal car crash that resulted in the death of an innocent bystander. The defendants attempted to flee from the police, leading to the collision. As a result, one defendant was captured, and evidence related to the crimes was recovered.

It is essential to examine the circumstances surrounding the fatal car crash to establish the defendants’ actions and responsibilities leading up to this tragic event.

Potential Sentences

If convicted of both charges, each defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the Hobbs Act robbery count and up to life in federal prison for the firearm count. The potential sentences demonstrate the severity of the crimes committed by the defendants.

It is important to note that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, highlighting the importance of a fair trial in determining their guilt or innocence.

Eager to uncover your city’s sinister side? Explore the latest crime news here!

Investigation and Assistance

Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation of the crime spree, including the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The collaborative efforts of these agencies illustrate the dedication to capturing the defendants and bringing them to justice.

Local police departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the El Monte Police Department, and the Downey Police Department, provided valuable assistance in the investigation. The cooperation between these departments demonstrates the collective commitment to maintaining public safety.


The prosecution team responsible for handling the case consists of Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin J. Butler and Jena A. MacCabe. This team’s expertise in handling violent and organized crime cases is crucial in ensuring a thorough and effective prosecution process.

The Violent and Organized Crime Section is tasked with handling this case, underscoring the significance of these crimes and the need for specialized attention to bring the defendants to justice.

In conclusion, the comprehensive article provides an overview of the crime spree committed by Kaelenn Maea, Salagi Iakopo, and Mathew Salanoa in Southern California. The details of the robberies, the fatal car crash, and the charges filed against the defendants demonstrate the severity of their alleged crimes. The investigation, assistance provided by local police departments, and the prosecution team’s efforts exemplify the commitment to ensuring public safety and holding the defendants accountable for their actions.

Discover the underbelly of crime in your city; click for the raw stories!